The next team in the NBA preview series is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are long away from the LeBron James’ era and look to rebuild from the ground up. Cleveland started the 2018-19 season rough, firing Tyron Lue after an 0-6 start and having assistant coach Larry Drew being the replacement for the rest of the season. Losing a star […]
The next team in the NBA preview series is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are long away from the LeBron James’ era and look to rebuild from the ground up. Cleveland started the 2018-19 season rough, firing Tyron Lue after an 0-6 start and having assistant coach Larry Drew being the replacement for the rest of the season.
Losing a star like LeBron always hurt and it showed here, as the team ended with a 19-63 record, placing 14th in the Eastern Conference. One bright spot to look at was 2018 first-round pick Collin Sexton, who led the team in points and assists, on route earning All-Rookie Second-team honors in the process.
In a quest to rebuild, the team had used their 2019 first-round picks on Darius Garland and Dylan Windler, in hopes that can contribute right away in the rotation. They also acquired another 2019 first-round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks, who then selected Kevin Porter Jr. Outside of those three, a lot of guys from last season are back on the team once again.
Here are the breakdowns of the position groups heading into the 2019-20 season.
- Jordan Clarkson
- Matthew Dellavedova
- Darius Garland
- Collin Sexton
The Cavs have a lot of solid depth at the point guard spot. Sexton leads the way and after an impressive rookie season, he’ll look to be one of the main go-to guys in the offense. He is a guy who will look to take a huge step forward in year two. Garland was drafted fifth overall in 2019 but there is a lot of unknown after an injury limited him to only five games at Vanderbilt last season. He did average 16.2 points in those five games, so even in that limited showing, we can see that he can be a solid scorer in the league. Clarkson is a solid scorer, averaging 16.8 points despite not starting a single game last season. Dellavedova is a solid defender that will always be a fan favorite in Cleveland.
- Brandon Knight
- Kevin Porter Jr.
- Dylan Windler
Knight has had an injury-riddled past few seasons but look to regain form in the latter part of the 2018-19 season and will look to improve and get back to his playing ways and put the injury behind him. The rookies in Porter Jr. and Windler and young guards that will be a ton of playing time early and hopefully, they can be nice building blocks for the future.
- Cedi Osman
The only technical small forward here. Osman replaced LeBron as the SF spot and nice a solid season in his own right, averaging career highs across the board (13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists). At 24, he still has plenty of room to grow and will look to be a more solid contributor for the team once again.
- John Henson
- Larry Nance Jr.
- Dean Wade *(Two-Way)
The former Los Angeles Laker in Nance has turned into a solid player with more playing time in Cleveland. He is an athletic PF who can jump out of the gym. The longtime Milwaukee Buck Henson is a solid defender and shot-blocker that will look to be a key role player for the Cavs this season. Wade went undrafted in 2019 and signed a two-way deal with the team, so he has 45 days from the start of the season to prove his worth. With the Cavaliers going young here, he’ll get a lot of playing time off the bat.
- Kevin Love
- Tristan Thompson
- Ante Žižić
A solid group of veteran centers that realistically are power forwards but take the C spot with the Cavs running a small-ball lineup. The resume of Love speaks for himself, with five All-Star appearances and a 2016 ring being some notable accomplishments. He has really transitioned his game nicely throughout the years, going from a huge rebounder to a solid stretch big man. He did deal with a few injuries last season but looks to return to form for this upcoming season. Thompson has been a solid longtime contributor for Cleveland and looks to continue his role this season. Žižić is a young center that has been with the team for the past two seasons and looks to continue his development in year three.
The Cavaliers hired former Michigan coach John Beilein. Beilein coached the Wolverines from 2007-2019 where he coached the team to two Final Four appearances and two Big Ten Tournament championships. I like the idea of bringing in a college coach to this type of team. He is used to coaching younger players and with Cleveland having a ton of young potential stars, this is a perfect fit.
Projected Lineup/Roster Cuts
- PG: Collin Sexton
- SG: Brandon Knight
- SF: Cedi Osman
- PF/C: Kevin Love
- C: Tristan Thompson
- Sixth Man: Jordan Clarkson
- Key Role Players: Darius Garland, John Henson, Larry Nance Jr., Kevin Porter Jr.
- Rest of the Bench: Dylan Windler, Matthew Dellavedova, Ante Žižić
- Two-Way Players: Dean Wade
- Roster Cuts: None
Like stated earlier, there is a lot of young guys on this roster but with that being said, they have a lot of potential talent here. The veterans of Love and Thompson will look to be the leaders here while Sexton will look to improve in his sophomore season. Knight will look to make the jump after dealing with injuries while Osman will look to improve once again as a solid scorer.
The bench of Clarkson, Henson, and Nance are solid contributors for now and if the bench rookies (Garland, Porter Jr., and Windler) develop quickly, the Cavaliers look to have a nice young core.
While the Eastern Conference is the weaker conference compared to the West, I still believe Cleveland will still finish in the bottom of the conference. Down the line, I think the team will be a playoff but the team needs to nail their draft picks now and for the future. The bright future in Cleveland.